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Opossums Used To Celebrate the New Year in Georgia

January 4th, 2019

Everyone is familiar with the New Year’s tradition of watching the ball drop in Times Square in New York City at the stroke of midnight, after which you are supposed to kiss someone to bring in the new year. We humans have been celebrating the new year for at least 4,000 years according to historians. The exact date when this is celebrate has changed a few times over time, but it has pretty much always involved a party. This party, however, does not always include the same traditions. The New Year’s ball drop and subsequent kiss is certainly not the only way people choose to bring in the new year. One interesting tradition even involved opossums.

The North Carolina and Georgia town of Tallapoosa added opossums to their New Year celebrations. The origins of this tradition are linked to the original name of the town, Possum Snout. Tallapoosa began using opossums in their New Year celebration after a resident taxidermist happened to come across a dead opossum on the side of the road one day shortly before New Years. Being a taxidermist, he decided to stuff the opossum. He was then somehow able to get the rest of the town to go along with using this stuffed opossum in their New Year celebration. The opossum, which is named Spencer for some unknown reason, is used in a similar fashion to the giant ball in Times Square. At the stroke of midnight Spencer the stuffed opossum is lowered from a tall building. This tradition is known by locals as the opossum drop. I guess you have to use what you have available when you don’t have a giant glittering ball to lower at midnight.

This is not even the strangest New Year celebration. Other animals and unusual items have been used to mark the new year. In Wisconsin a carp is dropped at midnight. In North Carolina they traditionally drop a pickle, and even a big slab of bologna is used in Philadelphia to mark the new year.

Do you know of other strange New Year traditions that are practiced around the country or world?

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